An In-depth Interview with Ambassador: Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega By Mars Cavestany Featured

An eminent career officer of the Philip- pine Department of Foreign Affairs, an ex- perienced all-rounder top brass former Ex- ecutive Director of the Office of Asia and Pacific (ASPAC) ; as well as a Philippine Representative to the ASEAN High Level Task Force that drafted the ASEAN Vision 2025.
Needless to say, her scholastic record is dot- ted with honors ad dis- tinctions graduating cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian Studies.
sador De La Vega in June 2018, the Order of Si- katuna with the Rank of Datu (Gold Cross) for her important role during the Philippine Chairmanship of ASEAN. Ambassador De La Vega is married.
She is again dear readers on a more indepth question and answer repartee.
Q1. For us all to gain a brief profile and back- ground notes of your be- ginnings could you kindly give us a brief run-down of your career highlights as an Ambassador from you previous postings to your most important distinc- tions please?
A1. Australia is my second Ambassadorial post. I first became an Ambassador in 2009 and served in Yangon, Myanmar for three years. I was in Myanmar during the most important phase in Myanmar’s history- where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from pris- on and thereafter she ran for elections and won. She is now the State Councillor. Under my watch in Myan- mar, we tried in our modest measure to help the coun- try in its economic reform
by sharing our best practices with them. In Manila, I was appointed in 2014 to be the Philippine Representative to the ASEAN High Level Task Force responsible for draft- ing the ASEAN Vision 2025. All of us in that group agreed without reservation that our focus will be the well-being of the more than 600 million citizens of ASEAN, thus we were guided by an overall aim of a “people-centered, people oriented ASEAN”. I did not realize then that this task will eventually lead to my next assignment as Phil- ippine Director General/ As- sistant Secretary for ASEAN. During this term, I was re- sponsible for shepherding the substantive preparations for our rotational chair- manship of ASEAN in 2017, which coincided with the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN. Thus, I and my team needed to shepherd as well our national commemorative activities for this milestone. Q2. How would you assess the over-all state of Philip- pine-Australian diplomatic relations at the moment given some rather unsettling events such as the not so
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Dear readers, let’s make welcome our new lady ambassador in the person of Ambassa- dor Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega
Her educational enrich- ment crosses far and wide having been a recipient of a Fellowship Program on Investments Promotion from the Belgian Gov- ernment, including, (take note) a Foreign Service Training Course under the auspices of the Austral- ian Department of For- eign Affairs and Trade so this isn’t the first time she had what we Filo-Aussies fondly refer to as fondly “Australian content and connection.”
She surely comes in our midst and brings with her a whole gamut of government ser- vice behind her including served as the As- sistant Secretary in the Office of ASEAN Affairs and the Director General of the ASEAN-Philippines National Secretariat from December 2015 to 04 September 2018. In her term, she organized and shepherded the substantive preparations for the Philip- pine hosting and Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017 and ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary commemorative activities which were, no doubt humongous events that required Her- culean efforts. But that’s an expertise Mad- ame de la Vega wears daintily and o
Ambassador Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega
To complete and round off the equation, she was no less a Freeman Fellow at the famed John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. obtaining a Master’s Degree on International Public Policy from the Paul Nitz School of Ad- vanced International Stud- ies.
Her past foreign service postings prior to Australia has been as Consul General in Los Angeles (twice, in 2003-2007 and then 2012 to 2014) .She was also the Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from September 2009 to October 2012.
(also known as Arroyo Administration that spanned two terms including the other half of the ousted President Jo- seph Estrada.
It’s interesting to note that she was likewise the Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister Con- sul General at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China under the Presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Before that she rose from the ranks from Third Secretary and Vice Consul in Jakarta, Indonesia (1990-‘93); then Second Secretary and Consul in Ma- drid, Spain (1994-’96); and First Sec- retary and Consul Tokyo, Japan (2001- ’03).
The Philippine Govern- ment awarded Ambas-

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